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Franklin County Judge Sends Man to Prison for Growing Marijuana

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FRANKLIN COUNTY, PA. -- Before being sentenced to prison Wednesday on a felony drug conviction, Robert Henry told a Franklin County judge that he is being persecuted for his religious beliefs.

The 51-year-old minister of a cannabis-based church, Henry was sentenced to between 61/2 and 13 years in state prison for operating a marijuana-growing operation from his jail cell in early 2010.

Judge John Walker also ordered him to pay $50,500 in fines, undergo a drug treatment program and avoid contact with his co-defendants in the case.

"I liken what the government is doing to me to the way the Nazis treated the Jews during World War II," Henry said.

He called the matter on which he was convicted "a political issue" and pointed out that a ballot initiative to legalize marijuana last year in California nearly passed, and said he believes legalization will happen soon.

"Unfortunately, you're not in California," Walker said. "Unfortunately, it's against the law."

A jury convicted Henry on two counts of unlawful manufacture of a controlled substance, conspiracy to manufacture a controlled substance, and possession of drug paraphernalia. He reportedly wore a T-shirt emblazoned with a marijuana leaf and the words, "I am not a criminal" and "legalize marijuana" to the April 14 trial.

He appeared at the hearing Wednesday in an orange jumpsuit and shackles. It was the second sentencing hearing scheduled in his case, since he didn't show up for the first one on May 18.

Henry has been in Franklin County Jail since June 8, when he was arrested in Lurgan Township. He was allegedly found camping in the woods with a stockpile of canned food, tending to more than 200 marijuana plants.

He waived his right to a preliminary hearing in that case Tuesday, and is now scheduled to be arraigned Aug. 3 on new charges of manufacturing a controlled substance, criminal conspiracy, possession with intent to deliver, and possession of drug paraphernalia.

"Clearly, Mr. Henry has no regard for the law," Assistant District Attorney Eric Augustine said.

Henry was sentenced for a marijuana-growing operation that was discovered in January 2010 after police were tipped off by an informant who had noticed unusual activity at a supposedly abandoned trailer near Fannettsburg.

Investigators raided the trailer, as well as a residence on Redwood Drive in Fannettsburg, discovering hundreds of live marijuana plants, drug paraphernalia and growing materials.

Henry was serving a nine- to 23-month sentence on drug charges in Cumberland County when the raid took place. Based on the number of plants that he found, he faced a mandatory minimum sentence of five to 10 years in prison.

Walker asked Henry why he was running an operation that included two mobile homes full of marijuana plants if he was only growing for personal use. He speculated that a person "would have to smoke 12 or 14 hours a day" to consume that amount of marijuana.

"I do," Henry interjected. "I smoke all day long."

He said he has been self-employed in the construction business for at least 10 years. His employers knew about the marijuana use and didn't care, as long as he did his work.

"I think marijuana should be legalized," Henry said. "My growing and smoking, it harms no one."

Henry said he joined The Hawaii Cannabis Ministry in 2008, and planned to travel to Hawaii and study under the Rev. Roger Christie, the church's founder. According to the church's website, followers believe the illegal plant is an essential religious sacrament.

"The THC Ministry is a universal religious organization that uses Cannabis to exalt consciousness, facilitate harmony, and become closer to God and Nature," the website states. "Cannabis was given by God to help humans find answers to fundamental questions about the meaning of life and their place in it."

According to the site, Christie and 13 other church members were arrested July 8, 2010, on federal drug charges. They have been nicknamed the "Green 14." Christie was the only one denied bond and remains incarcerated. Their trial is expected to begin in early July.

As the sentencing concluded, Henry made some final remarks to the judge.

"In closing, your honor, I would ask that if I made you mad or angry with my opinions, that you not hold it against any other people here," he said.

Walker interrupted Henry, and pointed out that he had not given him as strict a penalty as the law allows. He said that while everyone is entitled to an opinion, the law cannot be disobeyed.

As sheriff's deputies were leading him out of the courtroom, Henry said to Walker that his religion requires him to break the law.

"OK, well, keep practicing it," the judge said.

"I'm going to," Henry replied.

News Hawk- Jacob Ebel 420 MAGAZINE
Source: publicopiniononline.com
Author: Jim Tuttle
Contact: Contact Us
Copyright: MediaNews Group
Website: Franklin County judge sends man to prison for growing marijuana -- a substance he says his religion requires


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i live in a cannibis frendly state ,delaware. i got to say pa. has some strict unfair laws pertaining to cannibis. theres still a war on All drugs in pa.
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